Frugal Or Cheap? Here’s A Test

Here’s some mid-week fun for Moolanomy’s readers. Have you ever wondered if you are frugal or cheap? I do. I always consider myself frugal, but my wife calls me cheap — go figure!

Here’s a little test. Just answer the 10 questions below and write down your answers on a sheet of paper.

Are You Frugal Or Cheap?

1. Do you eat out (not counting lunches at work)?

  1. All the time
  2. 2-3 times a week
  3. 2-3 times a month
  4. Never

2. When you eat out, do you?

  1. I order whatever I crave
  2. Order an entree for each person and take leftover to go
  3. Share our meals to save some money
  4. I don’t eat out!

3. What do you drive?

  1. The latest and greatest 2 years lease can buy
  2. I buy new car every few years
  3. I always buy used car
  4. I don’t own a car

4. What kind of TV do you have?

  1. 1080 HDTV, of course!
  2. A flat screen TV, but not the latest and greatest
  3. I still have the one I bought 10 years ago
  4. I don’t have a TV

5. What cable/satellite package do you have?

  1. Premium channel with everything under the sun
  2. Just the basic channels so I can watch the news
  3. Whatever I get with the rabbit ears
  4. I don’t have a TV

6. You have some old clothes, do you?

  1. What are you talking about, I don’t have old clothes.
  2. I donate them when they get a little older
  3. I turn them into rags
  4. I am still wearing them

7. When you buy something, do you?

  1. I buy what I want, whenever I want
  2. I occasionally splurge on what I want
  3. I only buy what I need, clip coupons, use discount cards, etc.
  4. I avoid making any kind of purchases

8. When you receive gifts, do you?

  1. I take them back to the store to trade up
  2. I keep all my gifts
  3. I may return or re-gift some
  4. I sell them on eBay for cash

9. When you buy clothes, do you?

  1. I always shop brand names
  2. I usually buy when they are on sale
  3. I usually shop at goodwill and thrift stores
  4. I ask my friends and family for hand me downs

10. Regarding your lunches, do you?

  1. I always go out to the local restaurants
  2. I mostly eat low cost take out lunches
  3. I occasionally pack my own lunch
  4. I always pack my own lunch

Rate Yourself

For each question, give yourself: 1 point for any #1 answer, 2 points for #2, 3 points for #3, and 4 points for #4. Add up the points and rate yourself:

  • 35+ = You’re definitely cheap
  • 25-34 = You’re frugal. Good job!
  • 16-24 = You’re not frugal, but you appear to be reasonable with your spending habits
  • 10-15 = There are a lot of opportunities for you to save money

I scored 20 points. Look like there are some opportunities for me to be a little more frugal.

Here are a couple of frugal versus cheap to wrap up the article:

This post was featured in the Festival of Frugality #125 hosted by Quest For Four Pillars.

About the Author

By , on May 7, 2008
Pinyo is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance. He is a licensed Realtor specializing in residential homes in the Northern Virginia area. Over the past 20 years, Pinyo has enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, and financial literacy author.

Leave Your Comment (43 Comments)

  1. Miser In Training says:

    27…I have always been somewhat of a penny pincher. I shop at Goodwill proudly, I have no idea what the difference is between Plasma and LCD, and HD is no more than a couple of letters. However, I am happy. Even if I had money to blow, I would still shop around. I hate feeling like I’ve been taken, so I will find the lowest price…always. From groceries to socks, and everything in between. I drive a 2000 Buick which runs great, and if I want to treat myself, I’ll get a pizza with the works. (I still go and pick it up though…why pay for delivery and tip??? LOL!!)

  2. 23… borderline frugal?

  3. I scored 25. Now to respond to a previous comment … I don’t think single people HAVE to eat out more than married people. I didn’t eat out much when I was single. The trick is cooking much smaller amounts than the usual four-person “family size” and using the freezer to max out your food preservation. For example, split up a box of donuts with 3 or 4 to eat right away and freeze the rest.

  4. Lis says:

    23! Not frugal but I think I am like some of the people above. I agree with Cathryn Sykes, nice explanation about the traits of a frugal person. Frugality for me is being smart with managing your on resources, any resources including time and not just the money…

  5. Bucksome says:

    One point under frugal! If I had taken this last month before we bought our new 1080 HDTV, I would have made it.

    Oh, well it gives me something to work towards.

  6. LaurenS says:

    I couldn’t agree with Cathryn Sykes anymore. According to your criteria, I’m cheap because I scored a 36. But I know I’m not cheap. I’m still wearing my $180 custom made boots from Greenshoes that I bought 11 years ago. I buy quality because I want it to last. I don’t drive a car. But that’s because I think that cars make people lazy and are killing the earth. I almost always purchase things second hand because most people are wasteful and what they give away is almost new. I also think that people are generally miserable and buy things to attempt to make themselves happy. A brand new TV would not make me happy and on the other hand, neither does my 13 year old TV make me happy. But we do like to watch movies, so this is why we have a TV. If I had debt incurred by purchasing a 1080 HDTV, that would make me unhappy. The fact that I have zero debt because I own a 13 year old TV makes me happy.

  7. Cathryn Sykes says:

    You’ve picked the wrong way to describe the difference between frugal and cheap. Its not a matter of how much you spend. Its why and how your spend.

    There are two kinds of “cheap” people. One type is the person who will buy anything as long as it’s cheap enough, then brag about what a great bargain they got. The other person is the kind who’ll spend money on themselves, but not on anyone else. Example? The guy who buys himself a $50 dinner, then brags about picking a fight with the waiter so he didn’t have to leave a tip.

    Frugal people don’t mind spending money, they just don’t like wasting it…and they think its a good idea to try your best to live within your means. They know that saving money and investing it is the key to a steadily improving lifestyle. They are creative in finding ways to enjoy life that don’t cost a lot of money. They set financial goals and work to achieve them, whether its sending the kids through college or saving for that trip around the world. They make purchases based on the true worth of what they’re buying, not on status or hype.

  8. Angela A. says:

    borderline cheap @ 34–but I’m sure there are still lots of things I could do to save money. the major ones (some extreme) would include:

    1.) eat beans all the time
    2.) grow my own salads and peppers
    3.) take cold showers!–(don’t think i could ever give up hot showers though)
    4.) get a roommate to share my large room–(and give up privacy?!!!?)

    I’d save $300/mo or $3600 this way–not an insignificant sum! Am working on 1 & 2 but 3 & 4 would be my last resort. i know someone who’s doing #4 though, and she’s embarking on a trip around the world this summer.

  9. linking your test to my blog the FRUGAL FREELANCER! thanks!

  10. t says:

    I scored a 21 and I am consider myself to be frugal. Perhaps I see myself in this light because I am around plenty of spendthrifts.

  11. Austin, TheOrangePaper Guy says:

    A score of 25 for me. Still can learn more 😉

  12. Pinyo says:

    @Anne – good observation.

  13. Anne says:

    Some of these questions are relative to your lifestyle. For example, not having a car might be cheap in a rural area, but it’s normal for New York City. That question alone makes anyone without a car “not frugal.”

  14. Richard says:

    Ok 16 but it’s all relative. I make great money, I have no debt, I save, I invest and I give to charity, so what if I’m not frugal. It’s all about the balance.

  15. mum says:

    wow!a score of 33…I’m proud of myself.I wasn’t always this way…however I don’t want to go to extremes.

  16. Pinyo says:

    @Call Me Frugal – The quiz is just for fun. But good point about how financial interaction with others should be taken into account. I agree it’s a big factor.

  17. Call me Frugal but NOT CHEAP says:

    This is not a good quiz to determine if one is cheap or frugal. Someone who is frugal doesn’t spend much on themselves, but while cheap people may not spend much on themselves, they always offer their second-best or leftovers to other people.

    How much you spend on yourself does not tell anyone if you’re cheap or frugal; it just tells how disciplined you are. It’s how you spend your $$ with other people that tell you if you’re cheap or frugal.

  18. Four Pillars says:

    Thanks a lot for the link!


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